Resources for Arthritis: Pain Management, Exercise, Diet & More
Do you suffer from arthritis? Maybe you notice it when you’re stacking firewood for the winter, or when you’re weeding your garden for the spring. You might even notice it when a wild island storm is brewing and the pressure changes dramatically.
It’s more common than you might know. According to StatsCan, arthritis is the most prevalent common condition in the population, affecting nearly 6 million people aged 15 years and older, with 3 out of every 5 folks being under the age of 65.
While there are many potential causes of arthritis, including genetics, on-going physical and mental trauma to the body, and environmental factors, it’s widely understood to be a condition that results in chronic inflammation of the joints, including knees, hips and wrists.
Chronic pain associated with arthritis may result in long-term mental and physical disability, greatly affecting a person’s capacity to live a full and active lifestyle. In addition, there are several different types of arthritis and it’s important to know which one you may be diagnosed with before seeking treatment.Read:
Understanding Osteoarthritis - https://arthritis.ca/treatment/your-patient-journey/osteoarthritisRead:
Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis - https://arthritis.ca/treatment/your-patient-journey/rheumatoid-arthritis-enRead:
Understanding Psoriatic Arthritis - https://arthritis.ca/treatment/your-patient-journey/psoriatic-arthritis-enRead:
Understanding Ankylosing Spondylitis - https://arthritis.ca/treatment/your-patient-journey/ankylosing-spondylitis-en
While there is no known current “cure” for arthritis, there are a variety of both medical and holistic therapies and treatments that can assist in managing chronic pain, by reducing inflammation in the body and reducing pressure on the joints.
Here are the primary avenues for managing and navigating chronic pain and inflammation arthritis, including links to evidence-based therapeutic tools and practices from BC Healthy Aging.
Medical and Holistic Therapies
Evidence shows that there’s a variety of both pharmaceutical and plant medicine pain relief options and holistic and physical therapies to manage living with the chronic condition of arthritis. As always, it’s essential to connect with a medical professional to determine what course of action is best for you, as not all therapies and medications are right for everyone. Medicine/Pharmaceuticals & Drug-Free Treatment Read:
Review of the research on medications for managing arthritis - https://arthritis.ca/treatment/medicationRead:
Medical cannabis for arthritis relief - https://arthritis.ca/treatment/medication/medical-cannabisRead:
Drug-Free Pain Management Tools - https://arthritis.ca/treatment/pain-management/drug-free-pain-management-tool Supported Physical TherapyRead:
“Does Physical Therapy Really Help Arthritis Pain? Types of Exercises and How Long To Stick With It” - https://www.verywellhealth.com/does-physical-therapy-help-arthritis-6503869 Acupuncture, Massage and Chiropractic SupportRead:
Three Complementary Therapies to Try for Arthritis Relief - https://arthritis.ca/living-well/2023/3-complementary-therapies-to-try-for-arthritis-reliefExercise & Movement
We all know that physical activity can be beneficial for physical and mental well-being and health, but it isn’t always acknowledged that conditions like arthritis can greatly reduce a person’s ability to move their body.
This doesn’t mean that all physical activity is off-limits, far from it! There are plenty of gentler practices and exercises that can alleviate joint strain, and contribute to overall well-being by reducing stress. Chair-yoga, slow, somatic movement, gentle walks and stretches can all be beneficial practices. Free E-Course:
Learn how to best manage osteoarthritis of the hip and knee with exercise. Reduce your symptoms and improve your mobility, with McMaster University’s free digital learning course Osteoarthritis and Exercise https://www.mcmasteroptimalaging.org/e-learning/mobilityRead:
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Exercise https://www.mcmasteroptimalaging.org/blog/detail/blog/2021/08/19/getting-to-know-what-you-don-t-know-about-exercise-and-rheumatoid-arthritis?sid=3f5db4da-9ea2-484d-b30d-e73359c6f1bc&hl=ArthritisRead:
Osteoarthritis, Knee Pain and Exercise https://www.mcmasteroptimalaging.org/blog/detail/blog/2015/11/13/bad-knees-the-right-kinds-of-exercise-can-bring-pain-relief-and-improve-balanceRead:
“Is Yoga For Arthritis Right For You?” https://arthritis.ca/living-well/2023/is-yoga-for-arthritis-right-for-youWatch:
Yoga For Arthritis instructional video series https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLKAa4n_fskHKVvw_qOGfdckmW4T-rzECA&si=wE9YSD9JORvlqGjWFood & Diet
While institutional medical paradigms may not properly emphasize the importance of how food affects our overall health and well-being, many Cultures understand that vitality and life-span can be greatly attributed to dietary choices.
It’s also important to note that as we collectively face climate-collapse induced food shortages and dramatically increasing food costs, we must simply do our best with what we have access to!
Dietary adjustments to reduce overall inflammation in the body can positively affect joint function and emotional well-being, contributing to a reduction in pain for folks managing arthritis.
It's essential to remember that dietary changes may vary depending on the type of arthritis and individual factors. Before making significant dietary adjustments, consult with a healthcare professional and/or a registered dietitian to develop a personalized nutrition plan tailored to your specific needs and health goals.
The Arthritis Society of Canada recommends a diet rich in foods that are high in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and monounsatured fats, including salmon, mackeral and sardines, plus walnuts, hemp seeds, almonds, olive oil and eggs.
It is also recommended to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, including berries and dark, leafy greens like kale. Lean protein is best as it helps the body to repair and heal, so think of chicken, beans, tofu, nuts, seeds and seafood, over red meats.
Research also suggests that low levels of vitamin D, calcium and iron may exacerbate symptoms of arthritis and contribute to chronic pain and inflammation. There may also be particular supplements that are difficult to get by eating whole foods alone, including folic acid. Read:
Food and diet recommendations in detail - https://arthritis.ca/living-well/2018/your-good-food-guideRead:
Embracing the Mediterranean Diet & Lifestyle - https://arthritis.ca/living-well/2023/embracing-the-mediterranean-diet-and-lifestyleRead:
Weight and Arthritis - https://arthritis.ca/living-well/2023/why-weight-loss-matters-when-you-live-with-arthritisRead:
Anti-inflammatory Recipes - https://arthritis.ca/living-well?fc=and%7C%7Ccategories_article%7C%7C13;or%7C%7Ctopics_article%7C%7C29Read:
Supplements - https://arthritis.ca/support-education/online-learning/eating-well/what-about-supplements
Discovering the right combination of diet, pain management tools and therapies is above all, a personal choice, and can take time, energy and support from both medical professionals and holistic practitioners. We know that living in a remote location like Cortes may hinder some of these choices, but we also know that living within a smaller community can offer a more intimate kind of support that may be beneficial to our mental health and well-being.
If you’re not suffering with arthritis, but you know someone who is, consider offering support where you can: chopping wood, driving to the doctor, donating foods, and providing a kind and open space to listen and share can all be supportive gestures for building a compassionate and understanding community.Free Yoga on Cortes with Kelly >>
Movement and Mobility
LOCATION: Om Studio, upstairs Manson’s Hall
This class focuses on small isolated movements and exercises to help keep mobility and movement in the joints. No previous yoga experience necessary.
Soft Gentle Yoga
LOCATION: Gorge Hall
This class focuses on the breath and alignment. No previous yoga experience needed.Better At Home >>
If arthritis prevents you from doing certain chores in or around your home, you can sign up for the Better at Home Program and we can offer you some help. It is free for low income seniors, and market rate for seniors with an income above the BC average. You can read more about it here: https://www.cortesisland.com/tideline/show15772a46s0x50y1z/Better_at_Home_Update__August_2023